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How Long Does a Conviction Stay on Your Criminal Record?


State and federal law enforcement agencies are required to report information regarding a person’s arrests and convictions, which becomes part of the individual’s criminal record. Employers, financial institutions, landlords, and authorities in the justice system use this information to make final decisions. As such, having a criminal record can make it difficult to get a job, loan, or home. If a person is found guilty of a crime, a judge will refer to the individual’s prior convictions to determine sentencing.

Conviction Information Does Not Expire from a Criminal Record

Because of the substantial consequences of a conviction on a person’s future, they may wonder how long the information will stay on their criminal record. Unfortunately, arrest and conviction information does not expire; unless the individual takes a specific action, such as filing a petition for factual innocence or applying for an expungement, the information will remain on their record permanently. This is true for arrests, misdemeanors, and felonies.

The 7-Year Rule for Background Checks

Even though conviction information is permanent for the most part, under California law, an employment background check cannot include information for criminal offenses that happened more than 7 years before the screening. However, there is an exception if the employer is required by law to obtain criminal records from before the 7-year cap.

Restricting Access to Conviction Information Through Expungement

Waiting 7 years for a record to clear from a background check could make it difficult for the individual to get a job, and thereby an income to pay for necessities. Fortunately, for some misdemeanor and felony convictions, the individual can seek an expungement, which effectively seals the offense information from public access, including most employment background checks.

However, if the person was convicted of a federal crime, having the information cleared from their record could be difficult. Under federal law, only specific crimes can be expunged, and the individual must meet certain criteria to qualify for the expungement.

Schedule a free criminal consultation with Appel & Morse

Our attorneys understand that a conviction can negatively impact your future and livelihood. That is why we provide strong legal counsel to guide you through the state’s expungement process to clear your record.

Reach out to us today by calling (805) 467-6060 or filling out our online contact form.

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